Power companies throughout the United States and Canada are increasingly interested in the development and implementation of energy efficiency incentive programs for their customers.
However, many have learned from experience that simply offering even quite generous incentives is insufficient to product a successful program or to generate significant energy savings.
To be effective, energy efficiency incentive programs must be carefully designed to address a broad range of diverse elements. According to a recent analysis by Gerald Van Decker (P.Eng., M.A.Sc.), the key elements of a successful residential utility program include:
- Installation training of installers
- Sales training of builders, dealers, retailers, and distributors
- Enlistment and written commitment of key partners which may include plumbers, builders, retailers and distributors
- Working closely with manufacturers
- Co-marketing at many levels
- Ensuring supply chain cooperation and support
- Stable program objectives
- Flexible program design in initial phases
- Focus on both new and existing homes.
Several factors merit further attention.
First, programs must target a specific technology, such as Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR), and within the technology category, focus on the manufacturer or product that will be most effective to increase energy efficiency.
In DWHR Systems, the Power-Pipe has proven to be the best in terms of energy saving, maintenance requirements, and overall performance. Because of its exclusive, patent-pending design, the Power-Pipe achieves a greater and more efficient heat exchange and thus a greater energy efficiency than other DWHR devices, and this with no discernible pressure loss. The Power Pipe's performance has been verified by Natural Resources Canada, the University of Waterloo, as well as other American and Canadian agencies and power companies, in independent third-party testing. All of this makes the Power-Pipe the ideal product choice on which to base an energy efficiency incentive program.
Second, the program must include an appropriate training of stakeholders and participants. The general public's knowledge about DWHR technologies is very limited and so is the technical training of installers and others in the supply chain. Addressing these needs is critical because a substantial body of applied and field research on DWHR Systems makes clear that the performance of these systems varies greatly, depending not only on the product, but on proper sizing and installation, as well.
Third, available incentives must be set on a multi-level scale in order to reflect the actual performance of each installed system, rather than offering a lump sum grant which does not take into account the actual energy savings. In a recent study by Natural Resources Canada, the performance of various DWHR Devices varied substantially, based on the manufacturer, on the installation, and on unit sizing. Tiered incentives differentiate between higher performing units and less efficient devices, and allow for more accurate reporting of the overall energy efficiency impact.
Finally, program designers must be particularly careful when evaluating the efficiency of a DWHR incentive program, in terms of overall energy savings. DWHR devices are different from other energy saving measures because the total savings depend greatly on home occupancy. In fact, DWHR is highly cost effective in homes with three or more occupants but much less where there is a single occupant. Because of this factor, it is not accurate to determine the efficiency of a DWHR program when it is based on the average occupancy of a given geographical area. This unfairly penalizes DWHR, by taking into account a low performance in a portion of the market, single-person homes, in which it does not actually participate. Therefore, homes with a single occupant must be excluded.
For more detailed information on DWHR energy efficiency incentive program design, please download: